Random thoughts on the impact of social media on customer service, complaints, companies


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Hey people, let’s go easy on companies. We give them a pretty hard time. We’re rarely satisfied, always quick to react, often changing the goalposts depending on how we feel… and to top it all off, we expect them to be on Twitter 24/7, ready with a reply within seven minutes to my query or complaint.

And let’s not forget, my complaint is the most important one you’ve had today. I expect you to know who I am, I expect you to understand my predicament, I expect you to sympathise with me, to feel my pain. I know you’ve got rules and procedures, but perhaps just this once you could, you know, bend them a little for me? I’ve been a customer of yours for the last nine years, and I’ve recommended all my friends. Did I mention my cat is also really sick?

What’s that? There’s nothing you can do to help me? If you don’t help me, I’ll tweet to all my 57 friends, one of whom is Stephen Fry, who’s got hundreds of thousands of friends…


No company will ever move as quickly as their customers would like.

Social media is an ongoing experiment, it is a mindset. Companies cannot change their mindset over night. Individuals can. People can. Customers can.

Companies will rarely live up to customers’ expectations.

Companies will always be aspirational, that’s why they have vision statements.

We applaud Zappos because they are the exception. We applaud Frank Eliason because he is the exception. It’s a mindset. It’s an individual.

Complaints are an opportunity to exceed expectations.

Companies think they know what’s best for their customers. Customers think they know how best to run a company. Pity they don’t talk to each other very often.

Social media is pushing everything outwards, decentralising processes and procedures. You can complain wherever you want, to whoever you want. Companies no longer own their own real estate, more and more outposts are emerging. Companies, simply can’t keep up. The paranoia of being where their customers are. The paranoia of being everywhere and nowhere.

The impact of social media is giving customer service a voice; a real voice. Is it the frontline? The new battleground? Is customer service the new customer experience?

The impact of social media is not about customer service becoming marketers, or marketers becoming customer service agents, because that approach still has appropriation at its core. It’s about customer service working with marketing, working with business operations, working with sales, working across silos…working collaboratively to create an authentic customer-centric experience.


The best customer service is no customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Guy Stephens
Guy is a social customer care trainer/consultant who has been in the social customer care space since 2008. He is also the Co-founder of Snak Academy, which provides online social customer care microlearning for individuals and SMEs.


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